Compound Butters, The Way to More Flavor

July 26, 2011

in Condiments,Recipes

By Riki Shore

Thyme Lemon Butter

Thyme Lemon Butter

Compound butter is butter flavored with herbs, spices, salt, lemon, miso or yes, even anchovy. Especially anchovy. Most American butter is about 80% fat, and fat is a substance that allows flavors to bloom. Strong flavors, like anchovy, do well when mixed with butter. The flavor intensifies, but the fat in the butter softens the mouth feel and makes a strongly flavored food even more appetizing.

The first recipe below, thyme-lemon butter, is delicious on grilled chicken and salmon. It’s inspired by Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food and is open to your interpretation. You can substitute different herbs, increase the garlic or lemon, or add some minced shallot. Feel free to adapt it to suit your taste and your herb garden.

The middle recipe, miso butter, is inspired by David Chang’s cookbook Momofuku. It’s the easiest of the three to make and it’s sublime on all kinds of vegetables. I love it on corn, sweet potatoes, and grilled zucchini. It keeps a long time in the fridge and is wonderful to have on hand.

The last recipe, anchovy butter, is a classic French preparation straight out of Larousse Gastronomique. It elevates a beautifully cooked steak by adding a salty, savory punch.

None of these butters are expensive to make, and they will all add flavor and sophistication to your meals. I always have one or two in my fridge. So should you!


4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/4 chopped fresh thyme
1/2 garlic clove, minced
Squeeze of lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and add more salt, pepper or lemon, as desired.


4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons shiro miso

Stir together the butter and miso in a small bowl until well combined.

Corn with Miso Butter

Miso butter dresses up sauteed corn, red onion and bacon


8  tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
4 oz anchovy fillets, salted in oil
Squeeze of lemon juice

Soak the anchovies in cold water for 15 minutes. Drain and mince, or puree with a blender. Stir the anchovies and lemon juice into the softened butter.

Here’s a few more for you to try:

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: